When, in the Lord’s Prayer, we go on to say “who art in heaven”, we’re saying Heaven, God’s place, God’s home, is also our home. “Our citizenship”, says St Paul in one of his letters, “is in heaven”; that is, heaven is where we belong. And the kind of relationship that exists in God’s presence in heaven is a relationship of love and trust and intimacy and praise that can be ours here and now. Short, simple words, and yet they tell us that heaven is here on earth because of Jesus, and we can enter into that. For some heaven is up there, we are somewhere in the middle and down below is hell. Well, Heaven and Hell are realities today.
When people use the word hell, what do they mean? Probably something like a place, an event, a situation devoid of how God desires things to be. Famine, debt, oppression, loneliness, despair, death, slaughter–they are all hell on earth. Jesus’ desire for his followers is that they live in such a way that they bring heaven to earth. As Christians we should want to do what we can to resist hell coming to earth, by loving our neighbour. When that happens without an agenda or a transaction, just out of love, then we have each time a glimpse of heaven.
As a Church this is our most important witness to our faith. An outward expression of love. An example: a group of Christian students went out into their neighbourhood, they looked around and saw the homeless on their streets. They wanted to walk alongside them. What did they do? They went out and bought lots of cigarettes and handed them out and chatted to them. Their Church leaders said, “What on earth are you doing?” They said, “Well, this is the thing. What we found is that the homeless don’t get to die of lung cancer. They die from drugs and alcohol and loneliness long before that. The brief time we give them a cigarette we give them company and we say we are not judging you. We’re with you. We don’t then try to convert them, but if they ask why we are doing this we say, “because God loves us” and “we want you know he loves you too, no matter what”. A small glimpse of heaven.
A quote from Mother Teresa shows us what our attitude should be:
So, our God “who art in heaven” – isn’t a distance and unreachable God, but a close, intimate God. We just have to reveal Him.
In our novena of prayer for the evangelisation of the nation, today we are praying for the area of Maidenbower to the west of Billington Drive and all the roads off Matthews Drive and Harper Drive (plus Mercer Close and Proctor Close) – an area which includes Oriel High School. Our youth face a difficult environment today with so many more challenges, temptation and expectations. As you pray for the School, please pray that they experience a glimpse of heaven, especially those just starting GCSE, A/S and A Level exams.
who in your Son Jesus Christ,
declared the coming of your Kingdom,
strengthen us in the ways of righteousness
and peace, that our brothers and sisters may
know the healing power of the gospel,
and that you will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.